Things to know before buying cancer cover

Things to know before buying cancer cover

World Cancer Day is celebrated on 4 February every year. The disease is the second-biggest event of a death in India after cardiovascular conditions, and according to the Lancet Oncology Journal, by 2035, 1.7 million cases will be diagnosed with cancer forward with 1.2 million deaths per year. Given the increasing incidence of people suffering from cancer, a policy cover for this has become increasingly connected.

While most health insurance policies cover major cutting illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular conditions as well as cancer, the coverage may not be sufficient.

“Health insurance policies usually pay only for in-patient hospitalization and for treatment at hospitals in India. They do not treat the entire cost of treatment. Also, the policy amount may not be quite as the common man generally does not go for a health policy of more than ₹5 lakh," said Naval Goel, chief executive officer, and founder,, an online support marketplace. The value of cancer treatment can go up to ₹20 lakh in some cases.

A critical insurance plan guards against many terminal diseases, while a dedicated cancer policy covers expenses for cancer treatment particularly.

“It is worth examining a critical illness policy or disease-specific product if one has a family history of cancer," said Shashank Chaphekar, chief distribution officer, Man-ipalCigna Health Insurance.

In a severe illness policy, the lump-sum benefit is paid when diagnosed with the disease. Not only this, the premium is reserved post-diagnosis and a monthly income benefit is given for a fixed number of years. “As a thumb rule, guarantee that you take the protection of around 10 times your annual income as your sum insured for critical illness," Chaphekar combined.

However, a critical illness benefit may restrict coverage only to an advanced degree of cancer. “In contrast, a standalone cancer plan specifically offers cover against different types and stages of cancer. A cancer-specific policy pays the claim amount right at the time of diagnosis itself, securing the individual has sufficient financial bandwidth to cover up for hospitalization, surgeries, and other costly yet life-sustaining procedures," said B. Srinivas, products head, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance.

Remember that while both these programs provide financial security in the form of lump-sum payout, the main distinction is that a cancer plan is disease-specific whereas a critical illness insurance plan covers a large number of specified critical diseases, including cancer.

“A super top-up plan at a very economical award can be a wise thing to do, to keep you covered for a high sum guaranteed, as the plan provides financial protection against not just particular diseases but also for all infections, diseases, and accidents," said Chaphekar. Also, a disease-specific product cannot substitute for a primary or a comprehensive health insurance policy.